Carbon Monoxide

A Silent Enemy of Home Security

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of organic fossil fuels (such as oil, gas, or coal), due to insufficient oxygen supply to enable complete oxidation to carbon dioxide (CO2).

It is naturally found in very small amounts in the atmosphere, but concentrations of more than 100 parts per million can be dangerous to human health. In modern society, the main source of carbon monoxide is domestic or industrial settings by older motor vehicles and other combustion-powered tools, heaters, and cooking equipment.

  • Examples of carbon monoxide concentration in different environments (in parts per million):
    • 0.1 ppm – Natural atmosphere level
    • 0.5 – 5 ppm – Average level in homes
    • 5 – 15 ppm – Near-properly adjusted gas stoves in homes, modern vehicle exhaust emissions
    • 100 – 200 ppm – Exhaust from automobiles in a big city central area
    • 5,000 ppm – Exhaust from a home wood fire

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

You are in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning at home if great amounts of the gas accumulate in the air. This may happen because of faulty or damaged heating appliances, rooms not properly ventilated, blocked chimneys or flues, among others.

However, this gas is very difficult to be detected, as it has no smell, taste or colour. This is why it is sometimes called the “silent killer”. On average between 1 and 2 people die at home each year in Ireland from accidental exposure to carbon monoxide. And many others require emergency medical care for non-fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.

Core Security - Dublin - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptom - Headache

When carbon monoxide is inhaled into the body, it combines with the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen. The symptoms, at the beginning, are very similar to other illnesses such as a cold or a flu (headache, dizziness, nausea) and that is another reason why it is so hard to detect carbon monoxide poisoning. However, exposures to 800ppm or greater may cause collapse and unconsciousness, with continuous exposure leading to death.

What to do?

If you feel any or a combination of the symptoms mentioned above, and suspect of carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately and see a doctor.

Regular inspection and maintenance of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys are the best ways to protect you and your family from the hidden danger of carbon monoxide.

Core Security - Dublin - Carbon Monoxide Alarm

For added protection, as part of your home alarm system, you should have an audible carbon monoxide alarm installed. Because CO is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas, you can’t know when its levels in the air increase. The carbon monoxide detector will sound when the gas concentration in the room reaches dangerous levels, and that may save the life of your family.

And don’t forget to keep the carbon monoxide alarm maintained and up-to-date as well. After all, you never know when the “silent killer” may invade your home.

Sources:
Wikipedia – Carbon Monoxide
Wikipedia – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
CarbonMonoxide.ie

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